[cryptography] Snowden Drop to Poitras and Greenwald Described

ianG iang at iang.org
Sun Feb 9 02:27:01 EST 2014

On 9/02/14 09:11 AM, Jeffrey Walton wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 8, 2014 at 6:28 PM, John Young <jya at pipeline.com> wrote:
>> http://cryptome.org/2014/02/snowden-drop.pdf (7.6MB)
> That should be titled, "How Greenwald nearly missed the scoop of the
> millennium". It appears the man did nearly everything in his power to
> undermine the contacts and the meetings.

One of the things I read that really helped understand this process was
an old novel (not sure title/author) about the IRA bombers.  In that
novel (and do note that the spy novelists typically craft their plots
with as much reality as they can steal) the theme was about chasing the
chief IRA bomber and beating him.

But, the bomber also learnt, and adopted his tradecraft.  So what
British Intelligence did was to switch gears and harass his operations
to make them as difficult as possible.  Instead of trying to necessarily
stop the bombs, they pushed gear across that made bomb making risky, and
aggressively clamped down on 'safe' gear where they could.  In effect,
making unstable explosives and detonators available, and controlling the
market for the quality stuff.

So the bomb maker was forced into employing ever more risky techniques ...

This tactic of harassing the enemy to make mistakes more likely is
rather well known.  In war as in business.  And it can and is applied to
the media.

Since Iraq-I the technique of embedding has allowed the media to be
corralled and gelded, a technique the Americans got from the Brits who
developed it in the Falklands.  What is left is a clear trail of those
very few who decline to be embedded.

So, all of the legal, political, business and intel machines can be used
to harass and challenge the targets.  In that story, Poitras was
detained 40 times at airports.  This is deliberate harassment not to
punish her, but to try to slow her down, and to force her to make
mistakes.  Recall PRZ?  They tried to break him. Recall the IETF and its
difficulty in getting good crypto deployed?  Good stuff was harassed,
crap was rewarded.

Given this level of harassment, it really is entirely logical that
Greenwald -- he's a journo fakrisake -- took every excuse to avoid
getting in deep.  And both he and Poitras felt entrapment was a likely
direction, another sign that harassment was a real tactic.

They were acting entirely to the enemy's game plan, in the role cast for
them.  Be suspicious, be nervous, make like a rabbit.  Snowden's
challenge was to beat the plan, although reading the story, I'm
suspecting that he didn't recognise that game plan per se, and got
through with persistence, luck and desperation.

(And the next guy that tries that process is going to be caught, but
that's part of their story, not this one.)


More information about the cryptography mailing list